National News

Govt increases allotment for Export Promotion Schemes

NEW DELHI: With a view to boost the country’s outbound shipments, the Government has proposed to raise the budgetary allotment for Export Promotion schemes to Rs 4,115 crore for 2019-20. In the revised budget estimate for 2018-19, the allocation stood at Rs 3,681 crore as against the budgeted amount of Rs 3,551 crore. Additional funding in the next financial year (April 2019 – March 2020) include schemes such as market access initiative, National Export Insurance Account, Gems and Jewellery sector, investment in Export Credit Guarantee Corporation, and interest subsidy scheme. Funds for interest subsidy schemes were proposed to increase to Rs 3,000 crore in 2019-20 as against the revised budget of Rs 2,600 crore in 2018-19, according to the budget documents. April 1, 2015 was the starting date for the interest equalization/subsidy scheme for pre- and post-shipment rupee export credit, which will end in March 2020. The Government provides 3 % interest subsidy to exporters. It helps enhance the liquidity situation of traders. Exports grew by 10.18 % to USD 245.44 bn during April-December this fiscal year. India’s exports have been hovering at around USD 300 bn since 2011-12. The shipments grew by about 10 % to USD 303 bn during 2017-18. The promotion of exports helps a Country boost its manufacturing and earn more foreign exchange. Additionally, the allotment for the Department of Commerce for the next fiscal year is proposed to increase to Rs 6,219.32 crore as against the revised allocation of Rs 6,195.30 for the current fiscal. There has been a proposed increase in allotments for Special Economic Zones, Coffee Board, and Spices Board. But for categories such as Trade Infrastructure for Export Schemes, Tea Board, Rubber Board, and expenditure on disputes over foreign trade, there has been a proposed reduction in funding.

Secretary of Commerce: FY 19 India’s exports to surpass USD 314 bn peak

NEW DELHI:A senior official recently said that India’s exports in the current fiscal year are expected to surpass the earlier peak of USD 314 bn in 2013-14. Union Commerce Secretary Anup Wadhawan recently said, “This year, we are very confident that we will go past our earlier peak, our earlier peak of 2013-14. We will go past that peak quite comfortably this year.” He added, “The earlier peak was 314 bn. We will be comfortably beyond that. Mind you, that is in a very, very challenging global environment. It’s an environment where petroleum prices are coming down and 15 % of our exports are petroleum products. So, in spite of that, we are going to achieve a new peak.” Mr. Wadhawan said that the exports, in general, had been growing almost consistently for the last three years. He said, “In fact, you all know about the downturn of 2008-09 when there was a financial crisis, that hit us quite badly. But then we recovered from that. We reached a peak figure of our exports in 2013-14 and then as you know that global crisis got accentuated.” “The real economy got affected and you saw, countries like China and all also getting affected for the first time. Then again, there were couple of years of slight downturn,” he continued, adding that the Country’s exports had been growing during the past three years. Pharma, engineering products, petroleum products, gems and Jewellery, leather products and even textiles would be among sectors that contribute to the growth in the exports, the Commerce Secretary said. He said, “India is doing better, because of lot of effort which has been put into it, effort on the policy side, effort on the regulatory side, in terms of Ease of Doing Business, in terms of simplification of procedures. There are so many interventions, starting with making credit available at affordable rates.” Mr. Wadhawan assured that there existed an export strategy, with the Government listening to the exporters and addressing their problems. He hoped the IT exports would grow at around 10 %, which has been the trend for many years. In this regard he added, “The fact that we are dominant today (in IT), will in many ways, logically mean that we will remain dominant tomorrow also. So, certainly, I see a good future for Indian IT.” In his reply to a query, the Commerce Secretary said that the Country’s exports to China and the US were doing well; the trade issues between the two countries had to some extent contributed to India’s cause.

MSME Minister: MSMEs in forefront of manufacturing & export

NEW DELHI:Union MSME Minister Giriraj Singh said recently that his Ministry was striving to constantly upgrade the technologies adopted by MSMEs; this would result in quality products, which would be marketable and competitive. Addressing the Stakeholders Consultation Meeting, he said MSMEs were today in the forefront of manufacturing and export. This end would be achieved, he added, through measures such as increasing the limit for provision of collaterals, free loans up to Rs two crore, upgrading of technology, cluster development, vendor development, and others schemes for entrepreneurs.

Exporters want Centre to refund State levies to stay competitive

NEW DELHI:India has the eligibility to extend direct sops to exporters coming under the World Trade Organisation (WTO) scanner; thus the Government is examining the industry’s suggestion of expanding the scope and coverage of the Rebate of State Levies (RoSL), a scheme which does not flout global trade rules as it involves refund of taxes and levies paid by exporters, and is not a subsidy. A Government official said, “At the consultations between exporters and the Government, exporters made a case for extension of RoSL scheme to more sectors as the policymakers are not too keen on giving more direct export subsidies such as the Merchandise Export Incentive Scheme. The suggestion for RoSL extension is under consideration.” Offered only to exporters of apparel and made-ups, the RoSL is a scheme under which exporters can claim refunds from the Centre for all the levies and duties they pay at the State level. The official added, “The textile sector was most vocal about the need to extend the ROSL scheme to other categories as well. The representatives claimed that their exports were under pressure and needed the support.” The meeting between exporters and officials was attended by representatives of all Export Promotion Councils and Bodies. Because of the current State levies and duties on various products, including embedded taxes, a substantial amount of working capital gets blocked, and exports become uncompetitive, argue the exporters. The ROSL becomes more relevant since the Government is not keen on giving more direct export subsidies such as the one given under the MEIS. The majority of the incentives to exporters are currently under the popular MEIS; here, the Government gives exporters incentives equivalent to a certain %age of their export value. These are in the form of duty credit scrips, which can be used to pay customs duties, and are freely transferable.
WTO curbs
But such schemes have to be phased out, now that the WTO has ruled that India is no longer eligible to give direct subsidies such as the ones offered under MEIS, as India’s per capita Gross National Income is over USD1,000.
As the official said, “India’s exports have posted a growth of 10 % in the first three quarters and there are expectations that exports will touch an all-time high of USD325 bn in 2018-19. The Government wants to take all steps to ensure that growth doesn’t go off-track.”

Rationalization of Customs Duty and Procedures to promote Make in India initiative: FM

NEW DELHI:In order to promote the “Make in India” initiative, the Government has undertaken rationalization of Customs Duties and procedures. While presenting the Interim Budget 2019-20 in Parliament, the Union Minister for Finance, Corporate Affairs, Railways & Coal, Shri Piyush Goyal said, “The Government has abolished duties on 36 capital goods. A revised system of importing duty-free capital goods and inputs for manufacture and export has been introduced, along with introduction of single point of approval under Section 65 of the Customs Act.” He added, “Indian Customs is introducing full and comprehensive digitalization of export/import transactions and leveraging RFID technology to improve export logistics.”
Few highlights of Interim Budget 2019-20
Direct Tax proposals

  • Income up to Rs 5 lakh exempted from income tax
  • More than Rs 23,000 crore tax relief to 3 crore middle class taxpayers
  • Standard deduction to be raised to Rs 50,000 from Rs 40,000
  • TDS threshold to be raised from Rs 10,000 to Rs 40,000 on interest earned on bank/post office deposits
  • Existing rates of income tax to continue
  • Tax exempted on notional rent on a second self-occupied house
  • Housing and real estate sector to get boost-
  • TDS threshold for deduction of tax on rent to be increased from Rs 1,80,000 to Rs 2,40,000
  • Benefit of rollover of capital gains increased from investment in one residential house to two residential houses for capital gains up to Rs 2 crore
  • Tax benefits for affordable housing extended till March 31, 2020 under Section 80-IBA of Income Tax Act
  • Tax exemption period on notional rent, on unsold inventories, extended from one year to two years
    Railways

  • Capital support of Rs 64,587 crore proposed in 2019-20 (BE) from the budget
  • Overall capital expenditure Programme to be of Rs 1,58,658 crore
  • Operating ratio expected to improve from 98.4 % in 2017-18 to 96.2 % in 2018-19 (RE) and to 95 % in 2019- 20 (BE)
    MSME and Traders

  • 2 % interest subvention on an incremental loan of Rs 1 crore for GST registered SMEs
  • At least 3 % of the 25 % sourcing for the government undertakings will be from women owned SMEs
  • Renewed Focus on Internal trade; DIPP renamed to Department for Promotion of Industries and Internal trade
    State of the Economy

  • India universally recognized as a bright spot of the global economy during last five years
  • “Country witnessed its best phase of macro-economic stability during 2014-19”, says FM
  • India is now the 6th largest economy in the world from being the 11th largest in 2013-14
  • Annual average GDP growth during 2014-19 higher than any government since 1991
  • Government has broken inflation’s back from backbreaking inflation during 2009-14: FM
  • Average inflation down to 4.6 %, lower than during any other government
  • Inflation in December 2018 down to 2.19 % only
  • Fiscal deficit down to 3.4 % in 2018-19 RE from the high of almost 6 % seven years ago
  • CAD likely to be only 2.5 % of GDP this year against a high of 5.6 % six years ago
  • India attracted massive amount of FDI, worth USD 239 bn, during the last 5 years
  • “India is solidly back on track and marching towards growth and prosperity”, says FM
  • India becomes the fastest growing major economy in the world
  • Double-digit inflation contained and fiscal balance restored
  • Liberalization of FDI policy, allowing most FDI to come through the automatic route
    GST

  • GST made India a common market
  • GST led to increased tax base, higher collections and ease of trade
  • Inter-state movements now faster, more efficient, and hassle free
  • Responsive and sensitive reduction of tax rates – Most items of daily use now in the zero % or 5 % tax slab
  • Relieving the businesses and service providers-
  • Exemptions from GST for small businesses doubled from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 40 lakh
  • Small businesses having turnover up to Rs 1.5 crore pay only 1 % flat rate and file one annual return only
  • Small service providers with turnover up to Rs 50 lakh can opt for composition scheme and pay GST at 6 % instead of 18 %
  • Soon, businesses comprising over 90 % of GST payers to be allowed to file quarterly return
  • Encouraging GST revenue trends – The average monthly tax collection in the current year is Rs 97,100 crore per month as compared to Rs 89,700 crore per month in the first year
    Infrastructure

  • Civil Aviation – UDAN Scheme
  • Number of Operational Airports crossed 100
  • Latest: Pakyong airport in Sikkim
  • Domestic passenger traffic doubled in last 5 years
    Roads

  • India is the fastest highway developer in the world
  • 27 km of highways built each day
  • Stuck projects completed – Eastern Peripheral Highway around Delhi – Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh
    Waterways

  • Flagship programme of Sagarmala along the coastal areas
  • For first time, container freight movement started on Kolkata to Varanasi inland waterways
    Railways

  • ‘Safest year’ for railways in its history
  • All Unmanned Level Crossings on broad gauge network eliminated.
  • Semi high-speed “Vande Bharat Express” introduced – first indigenously developed and manufactured
    Customs and trading across borders

  • Customs duties on 36 capital goods abolished
  • Digitization of import and export transactions
  • RFID technology to improve logistics
    Vision for the next Decade

  • Foundation for India’s growth and development laid in the past 5 years
  • Poised to become a USD 5 trillion economy in the next five years
  • Aspire to become a USD 10 trillion economy in the next 8 years thereafter
    Ten dimensions of Vision for India of 2030
    India would be a modern, technology driven, high growth, equitable and transparent society

  • To build physical as well as social infrastructure and to provide ease of living
  • To create a Digital India, digitise government processes with leaders from youth
  • Making India pollution free by leading transport revolution with electric vehicles and focus on renewables
  • Expanding rural industrialisation using modern digital technologies to generate massive employment
  • Clean rivers, safe drinking water to all Indians and efficient use of water through micro-irrigation
  • Besides scaling up of Sagarmala, coastline and ocean waters powering India’s development and growth
  • Aim at our space programme – Gaganyaan, India becoming the launch-pad of satellites for the world and placing an Indian astronaut into space by 2022
  • Making India self-sufficient in food, exporting to the world to meet their food needs and producing food in the most organic way
  • A healthy India via Ayushman Bharat with women having equal rights and concern for their safety and empowerment
  • Transforming India into a ‘Minimum Government Maximum Governance’ nation with proactive and responsible bureaucracy

Central Government implementing Export Promotion Capital Goods Scheme: MoS for Commerce

NEW DELHI:The Central Government has been implementing a Scheme called the Export Promotion Capital Goods Scheme under the Foreign Trade Policy for manufacturer exporters with or without supporting manufacturer(s), merchant exporters tied to supporting manufacturer(s) and service providers. This will promote the import of capital goods, resulting in the production of quality goods and services and the enhancement of India’s manufacturing competitiveness. As per the Scheme, EPCG Authorizations are issued with actual user condition and import validity of 24 months to import capital goods (except those specified in negative list) for pre-production, production and post-production at zero customs duty, and subject to fulfilment of specific export obligation equivalent to 6 times of duties, taxes and cess saved on capital goods, to be fulfilled in 6 years from date of issue of Authorization. The Authorization holder also must fulfil the average export obligation achieved by him in the preceding three licensing years for the same and similar products. However, if the authorisation holder fulfils minimum 75% of specific export obligation and 100% of average export obligation within half the original export obligation period, the remaining export obligation can be condoned. Also, the specific EO is only 75% for indigenous sourcing of capital goods and for exports of Green Technology products. The specific EO is only 25% in the case of Units located in the North-East Region and Jammu & Kashmir. Capital goods imported for physical exports are also currently exempt from IGST and Compensation Cess up to 31.03.2019. The Minister of State of Commerce and Industry, C. R. Chaudhary, offered this information at the Lok Sabha.

FIEO: Boost to exports through new logistics portal and policy

An industry association said on Saturday that the new logistics portal and upcoming national policy would help boost the country’s export growth.
The sector assumes significance as reduction in logistics cost and time would help promote competitiveness of domestic products in global markets, said Mr. Ganesh Kumar Gupta, President, and Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO). A comprehensive logistics policy and a portal for the sector will be disclosed soon by the Commerce Ministry. While addressing the closing function of a three-day logistics show ‘Logix India’ here, he said, “Logistics plays a key role in boosting exports.” Mr. Gupta said that over 130 logistics companies and their delegates from 27 countries participated at this event and exchanged business prospects and opportunities to make global the Indian logistics sector. The FIEO also signed MoUs with Ceylon National Chamber of Industries and Kabul Chamber of Commerce and Industries to further promote commerce and trade. The Department of Commence is working on setting up a logistics portal and formulating a national logistics policy.
Special Secretary in the Department of Commerce, N. Sivasailam, spoke at the function, saying that great business opportunities await global companies in this sector in India. DG and CEO, FIEO, Ajay Sahai, said that Logix India 2019 has provided a networking platform for all the stakeholders including SMEs. Mr. Sahai added, “The draft comprehensive logistics policy and portal, which will be unveiled soon, will add to furtherance and efficiency of the logistics industry in the country.”

Commerce Ministry highlights incentives received for Textile Exports

NEW DELHI:

The World Trade Organization’s (WTO) systems offer a Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) to the least developed countries (LDCs), through which they enjoy duty advantage. In view of this India faces a duty disadvantage of up to 9.6% vis-à-vis other neighbouring LDCs. A significant decline in the global demand of textiles between 2014-17 has contributed to a reduction of textiles exports from India. The Duty Drawback Scheme, which rebates the incidence of Customs and Central Excise duties suffered on inputs used in manufacture of export goods, is not related to the lack of innovations in the textile industry or its losing out to neighbouring countries. The Government has announced a Special Package for garments and made-ups sectors in order to increase the exports of the textile industry. The package offers Rebate of State Levies (RoSL), labour law reforms, additional incentives under ATUFS and relaxation of Section 80JJAA of Income Tax Act. Also, the rates under Merchandise Exports from India Scheme (MEIS) have been increased from 2% to 4% for apparel, 5% to 7% for made-ups, handloom and handicrafts, w.e.f. 1st November 2017. Products such as fibre, yarn and fabric in the textile value chain are being strengthened and made competitive through various schemes, inter alia, Powertex for fabric segment, Amended Technology Upgradation Fund Scheme (ATUFS) for all segments except spinning, Scheme for Integrated Textile Parks (SITP) for all segments, etc. Exporters have been provided assistance under the Market Access Initiative (MAI) Scheme. Further, Government has enhanced interest equalization rate for pre and post shipment credit for the textile sector from 3% to 5% w.e.f. 02.11.2018. From 2019, the benefit, limited only to manufacturers earlier, has been extended to merchant exporters. No new Free Trade Agreements have been signed by India in the past five years. However, the India- ASEAN Trade in Goods (TIG) Agreement has been expanded in November 2014 to include the Services and Investment Chapter under the Agreement. The India-Chile PTA, signed in March 2006, was expanded on the 6th of September, 2016, and came into force with effect from 16th May, 2017. The Minister of State of Commerce and Industry, Mr. C. R. Chaudhary, offered this information in the Lok Sabha recently.

Paradip Port: Nitin Gadkari to inaugurate project worth Rs 431 crore, lay foundation for six port projects worth Rs 3206 crore today

NEW DELHI: Paradip, Odisha, shall see the unveiling of a number of mega projects of Indian Oil (IOCL) and Paradip Port Trust (PPT); these will cost over several crores. Union Road Transport & Highways and Shipping Minister, Nitin Gadkari, Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram and Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, will be present at the launching of these projects. The inauguration of a Polypropylene (PP) plant built at an investment of Rs 3,150 crore will be a leap forward for IOCL’s state-of-the-art 15-MMTPA refinery. The officials, speaking of the projects at Paradip Port, said that a Multipurpose Berth made to handle clean cargo including containers, and to diversify its cargo profile, will be launched. The terminal has a 5 MMTPA capacity, and the estimated cost of the project is Rs 430.78 crore. The mechanised coal-handling plant will see the launching of a dust suppression system completed at a cost of Rs 17.50 crore. Foundation stones will be laid for various projects such as the mechanisation of berths to enhance their capacity to 30 MMTPA; a closed conveyer system enabling cargo handling of thermal coal exports in an eco-friendly manner at a cost of Rs 1,437.76 crore. Also, a project for the development of a new coal berth for handling of coal imports at Paradip Port on BOT basis will cost approximately Rs 655.56 crore.The installation of a container scanner with a project cost of Rs 40 crore, and the creation of a second exit from PPT, including a flyover to reduce traffic in the city area and provide improved connectivity at a cost of Rs 94 crore, are the other projects at the port. Paradip will also launch a multi-modal logistics park being developed over an area of 100 acres with an estimated cost of Rs 200 crore.

DGFT notice: Government allows export of bio-fuels from SEZs, EoUs

NEW DELHI:
As per a notice of the Directorate General of Foreign Trade, the Government has allowed the export of bio-fuels from Special Economic Zones (SEZs) and export-oriented units (EoUs) with certain conditions. In August 2018, the Government imposed restrictions on the export of bio-fuels for non-fuel purposes. Following these restrictions, exporters operating from SEZs and EoUs made representations to remove these prohibitions stating they only used imported material for export of final product. They also informed Government authorities that SEZ units had been granted a letter of approval for export of bio-fuels, and EoU units had obligations to fulfil under an export promotion scheme.
This move has been made possible by a detailed export promotion strategy, which has been prepared by the Department of Commerce and is under implementation in consultation with and with the support of wide-ranging stakeholders, including Export Promotion Councils, exporters and financial institutions.

Promotion of Agri exports: Commerce Ministry identifies Clusters

NEW DELHI: Great efforts are being made by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry to implement the first-ever agriculture export policy announced in December 2018. Commerce and Industry Minister Suresh Prabhu recently addressed a workshop with farmers in Pune. For the achievement of the objectives of the policy, clusters have been identified across the Country for the development of exports. Six clusters have been identified in Maharashtra for Grapes, Mango, Pomegranate, Banana, Oranges and Onion. To ensure successful implementation, FPO’s and co-operatives should be linked with the farmers and exporters. The Indian Institute of Packaging has been ron abourped in to work on packaging standards for international markets in order to increase the demand for the identified products. Several Middle East region countries are willing to invest in facilities like cold chain and warehousing in India for import of agro and processed food products by them. India sees about 600 mn tonnes of agriculture and horticulture production per year. There is approximately 30% wastage of fresh horticulture produce; for avoidance of this loss, there is an urgent need to strengthen the supply chain. An international market needs to be explored for India’s agri products; they should not be confined to our boundaries. Though the agriculture export policy, shrimp, meat, basmati & non-basmati rice, grapes, bananas, pomegranate, vegetables including potatoes, processed / value added products, cashew, plant parts/medicinal herbs in value added form, including herbal medicines, food based nutraceuticals, aromatics, spices (cumin, turmeric, pepper), ethnic & organic food have been identified as potential winning sectors. Most of the products / clusters are already aligned with this objective. The policy has emphasised processing and value addition through workshops. Synergy amongst all relevant stakeholders is expected to provide necessary boost in achieving higher exports of India’s high quality agri products.

Draft National Logistics Policy to create e-marketplace: comments invited from stakeholders by Commerce Ministry

NEW DELHI:

A draft National Logistics Policy has been drafted by the Centre to create a national logistics e-marketplace (as a one-stop marketplace for exporters and importers), to set up a separate fund for start-ups in the logistics sector, and to double the employment in the sector.
Aiming for transparency

With reference to the e-marketplace, the draft stated, “It will involve simplification of documentation for exports/imports and drive transparency through digitisation of processes involving customs, in regulatory, certification and compliance services.”
The Ministry hopes to improve logistics, and thus provide an impetus to trade, enhance export competitiveness, improve India’s ranking in the Logistics Performance Index to between 25 and 30, reduce losses due to agri-wastage to less than 5 %, and bring down logistics costs to 10 % of GDP from the current levels of 13-14 %. The draft suggests setting up a start-up acceleration fund to encourage start-ups bringing in new technologies in the logistics space, particularly in areas such as market aggregation, freight forwarding, cold chain, and telematics; this fund will help incubate such ventures. The logistics wing will work with the respective ministries for identification and development of terminals/ logistics parks next to specific rail sidings to optimise freight movement for key commodities. The draft stated, “This would result in reduction of first-mile and last-mile costs, drastically bringing down the logistics cost.” As the draft says, key projects for driving first-mile and last-mile connectivity and for optimising the Modal mix will be identified by the logistics wing. Expedited clearances will be facilitated for infrastructure projects. For example, the Ministry of Environment and Forests provides single window environmental clearance through the “PARIVESH” platform. The draft said that it would also identify key corridors that could be developed as ‘model logistics’ corridors connecting major clusters. It added that doubling employment in the logistics sector by generating 10-15 mn jobs, focusing on enhancing skills in the sector, and encouraging gender diversity will also be on the anvil.

Jan 2019 sees highest-ever monthly Cargo handling performance by Cochin Port

COCHIN:In January 2019, Cochin Port handled 2.857 mn metric tonnes (MMT) of cargo, the highest-ever monthly cargo handled at the port. January 2018 had seen the previous highest of 2.825 MMT. The cumulative handling of cargo from April 2018 to January 2019 was 26.148 MMT, 8% higher than the cargo handled during April 2017 to January 2018. In January 2019, Cochin Port’s ICTT handled 55,953 TEUs, the highest-ever monthly container handling at Cochin Port. March 2018 saw the previous highest of 52,476 TEUs. The cumulative number of containers handled between April 2018 and January 2019 is 482,880 TEUs, 5.11% higher than the number handled during April 2017 to January 2018. In January 201, the Container Freight Station of Cochin Port Trust handled 391 TEUs, 13.66% higher than the containers handled during January 2018. The cumulative number of containers handled at Port CFS during April 2018 to January 2019 was 3662 TEUs; this is 0.11% higher than the number handled from April 2017 to January 2018. Cochin Port continues to be the most sought-after destination for international cruise liners. Eight cruise vessels called at Cochin Port during the month of January 2019. The total number of cruise vessels visiting Cochin Port during 2018-19 is expected to be 50, the highest-ever number of cruise calls at Cochin.

Trailer strike at ICTT Vallarpadam may impact seafood export

COCHIN:The disruption in trailer movement at the International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam has led to anxiety among seafood exporters in Kerala, who fear that the ongoing strike may lead to a business loss for the ensuing Easter season from overseas markets.
Since Monday, February 4, cargo movement to and from the ICTT has been affected, as some 2,000 trailer operators are refusing to pay toll at the plaza newly opened by NHAI at Ponnarimangalam near the terminal. President of the Seafood Exporters Association of India-Kerala Region, Alex K. Ninan, said that nearly 80-100 marine food consignments, which are highly perishable, have been stranded in factories following the strike; these containers need to reach overseas destinations before the cut-off date. Exporters from neighbouring States that were using Cochin Port for their shipments have already started diverting the shipments to the neighbouring ports of Tuticorin and New Mangalore.
Mr. Ninan said that the strike was declared without any prior notice and brought almost all of the port’s activities to a standstill. He urged the authorities to intervene and find an amicable solution, noticing the worsening situation.

JNPT and LIC place bid for buying iconic Air India tower in Mumbai

MUMBAI:Life Insurance Corporation of India and Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust have placed bids to buy cash-strapped Air India’s iconic 23-storey tower located at Mumbai’s Marine Drive in Nariman Point, facing the Arabia sea. JNPT, India’s biggest Container Port, has put in a bid to buy the tower from the national carrier, a Shipping Ministry official said. An earlier plan to sell the tower to JNPT without a tender was called off to avoid allegations of irregularities.

CoC backs JNPT plan to acquire Dighi Port

NAVI MUMBAI:

The resolution plan placed by JNPT to buy Dighi Port under India’s bankruptcy and insolvency law has been backed by the Committee of Creditors (CoC). Sources say that the approval of the lenders panel will be submitted to the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) for ratification. As a source from the Shipping Ministry said, JNPT, India’s biggest container gateway, had quoted an upfront amount of more than Rs. 600 crore besides capital infusion to continue running the port as a going concern. The Ministry official said, “The resolution plan approved by the CoC is the one submitted by JNPT in November.” For JNPT, given the constraints to expand further, the deal makes commercial sense. Dighi is located in the same district as JNPT, just a few kilo meters away. This is also the first time a port (JNPT) owned by the Centre is buying a private port under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code (IBC). Apart from that, added the Ministry official, Dighi fits into its strategy of developing a new hub and spoke model with JNPT at the center. He said, “In India, it’s not easy to set up a port. It takes its own time. Dighi is a ready-made port, plus it’s a stressed asset. So, we are trying to get it a reasonable price, that’s the game.”According to him, the future of JNPT is in having a hub-and-spoke model on the waterside: JNPT is in the center, 3-4 smaller ports are created nearby, and cargo is brought from those places through waterways. The official added, “Dighi will be a satellite port but dealing with specialized cargo like the cargo which Mumbai Port Trust is not handling now, it will be shift to Dighi. It’s ready business available. South Korean steel-maker Posco is already having business there, coal market is already there. There is ready cargo, rest you build up.”

Big decrease in December JNPT cargo dwell time

NAVI MUMBAI:In the month of December, the cargo dwell time at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) decreased substantially, as stakeholders at the public container gateway worked harder to improve efficiency amid ever-challenging market conditions. In December, the average dwell time at JNPT was 42.7 hours (exports and imports combined), compared to 48.3 hours in November; this was a 12 % improvement month to month, as a new study by radio-frequency service provider DMICDC Logistics Data Services (DLDS) said. More importantly, a persistent Government concern, the pace of import freight clearance, increased substantially. December saw a decrease in import dwell times from 27.6 hours to 20.4 hours; this was an impressive 26 % gain. The dwell time was 26 hours in December 2017. Also, export dwell times decreased from 73.2 hours in November to 71.6 hours in December: a 2 % month-to-month change. Although modest, that was a respectable 11 % improvement after the 80.8-hour performance seen in December 2017. There was also a speedier import clearance from off-dock container freight stations (CFSs), which are integral to JNPT’s supply chain ecosystem in the wake of limited on-dock storage capacity. It improved 10 % from 3.3 hours in November to 2.9 hours in December; CFS export handling, however, slowed from 4.9 hours to 5.3 hours: a 9 % change.
By terminal

As far as terminals are concerned, APM Terminals’ Gateway Terminals India (GTI) was the overall star performer in dwell times; the company has enjoyed this position for a long time. According to the DLDS report, GTI’s overall dwell time decreased from 45 hours in November to 42.1 hours in December; imports declined from 24.1 hours to 18.3 hours; and exports fell from 71.5 hours to 66.3 hours. Dwell times also reduced for other terminals operated by DP World and new entrant PSA International, especially in import handling. In port language, ‘dwell time’ is defined as the time taken for exports inside terminal gates to be loaded onto a ship and imports onto a truck or train. The majority of India’s container freight is handled by JNPT; the Government is extremely keen on further improvements in dwell time, as containers overstaying on the docks are a major contributor to harbor congestion. According to Industry leaders, the improvements mentioned above are mostly due to two factors: direct port delivery (DPD) services enabling importers to clear cargo directly from the wharf, and more digital solutions. Progress was also noted in rail conversions. Freight handling by train during December increased from 14 % in December 2017 to 15 % in December 2018. With JNPT extending inter-terminal rail operations to DPD cargo, rail conversions are likely to gain more ground in the months ahead.

CHINA News

Trading partners shocked as China’s economy slows

Beijing, the second largest economy in the world, has reached the slowest rate of growth in three decades riddled with domestic weaknesses, a huge debt build up, overinvestment and constraints on private businesses combined with trade tensions. The drop in factory production and consumption is affecting adversely how much China buys from companies elsewhere in Asia, the U.S. and Europe. The rippling effect goes far beyond stock indices retarding economic growth far from China’s shores. China has bacome a major trading partner for countries across the globe after years of rapid growth. Of the total growth in global exports and imports over the last decade, China accounted for a fifth. It played a key role in keeping markets buoyant during periods of weakness such as the Eurozone’s financial crisis. China’s economic frailty is now is felt everywhere. Semiconductor processing equipment demand is falling in China. Smart phone part exports from Japan, the world’s third largest economy plumetted by 3.8% in December from a year ago, the largest decline in more than two years. Trying hard to gain exports to China, Germany’s exposure became the main reason why it grew only 1.5% last year, the slowest in five years. According to Oxford Economics, exports to China from large developed economies including the U.S. and other Asian countries were nearly 10% lower last year from 2017. Chief Economist at investment manager AMP Capital, Mr. Shane Oliver said, “China now has been such a major contributor to global growth that when it slows, that has impact all around the world.”
Snce Chinese companies that do not sell as expected at home turn to exports as a way out, pressures have upped on competition across Asia. This trend threatens a big, new headwind as Europe’s economy sags under political uncertainty and trade disputes. In the US, a three year boom seems to be coming to an end for manufacturers as sales to China soften. China being a major market for many American manufacturers, its slowdown has troubled them. Industrial bellwethers Inc. and 3M Co. are vexed as also smaller firms like tanneries and tool producers. On Monday Caterpillar forewarned of a slim growth in profit this year, putting the blame on slower sales in China. Germany’s leading auto supplier Continental AG, expects a double digit drop in Chinese auto production in this January from last January. Development Finance Chief Mr. Wolfgang Schäfer says it “will have a direct impact on our order book.” Asian countries badly hit by the slowown, sell Chinese products from clothes and cars to the technology that powers China’s manufacturing sector. A drop in demand from China was obvious late last year itself, especially for semiconductors, a sector that accounts for 15% of China’s imports and is indispensable for the country’s growth.
Profits for South Korean Chip Maker Inc. fell last week by 28% from the third to the fourth quarter of 2018, thanks to poor Chinese demand for high-end smartphones and uncertainties from the U.S.-China trade fight. Japan’s Bellwether Corp. a component supplier, this month cut its forecasted earnings for the same reasons.

Foreign Firms With Accelerated Investment Law frustrated by China

BEIJING— As Beijing amidst trade tensions speeds up passing of a proposed law, China is giving foreign businesses a smaller window to voice concerns about new rules on foreign investment. The latest version of the legal framework was reviewed by the Chinese legislature’s standing committee this week. On Wednesday, at the end of a two-day session they decided to put the draft before the full congress in early March, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. That sets the stage for a speedy rollout of the law, without much time for lawmakers to weigh the feedback from foreign businesses, because it is they who have long sought a legal framework that levels the competition between foreign and domestic firms in China. The current draft does respond to some longstanding rebukes from foreign firms, promising to safeguard their intellectual-property rights and ban forced technology transfers. But language no points about national security reviews, government expropriation and other matters officails could use against foreign firms is vague. It also overlooks their old practice of subsidizing state-owned enterprises — a sore point with the Trump administration that some businesses hoped would be addressed. Foreign business groups such as the American Chamber of Commerce in China and the U.S.-China Business Council feel disadvantaged under the legislature’s new timetable. These two business groups are collecting inputs from member companies and will submit their feedback to authorities before the official comment period ends on February 24, 10 days before the National People’s Congress convenes to deliberate and possibly pass a new draft. The accelerated process is seen as an indication by business groups of China trying to patch together the law and make the trade talks with USA sweeter. Says Andrew Polk, Founder of consulting firm Trivium, of Chinese lawmakers, “they are doing whatever they can to change the narrative that China’s not open for business. It’s really an effort to get the high-level pieces in place.”

After trade talks, China buys 2mn tons of soybeans from USA

After 2 days of trade talks in Washington, China has picked up more soybeans from USA. More than 1mn tons of soybeans each were bought by state-run buyers Cofco Corp. and Sinograin, the companies said in separate statements on Saturday. The purchases had almost the same thing to say, which is “to implement the consensus that the leaders of both China and the U.S. have come to.” People in the know told Bloomberg earlier that the soybeans will be shipped in Apr-Jul and be loaded at ports both in the US Gulf and the Pacific Northwest, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg earlier. The deal comes before Chinese Lunar New Year holidays, when Cofco and Sinograin are expected to be absent from the market. This comes after President Donald Trump announcement folllowing this week’s trade talks in Washington that China, the top soybean importer, has agreed to buy a total of 5 mn tons from USA. This is over and above the estimated 5 mn tons bought after Trump met with his counterpart Xi Jinping in December. However, Trump’s ‘Very Happy’ farmers remain wary on soy sales to China. China is buying US soybeans as a goodwill gesture leaving trade delegations to sort out problems such as intellectual property.

First direct cargo link – a cargo train – between China and Italy flagged off.

ChengduThe first ever rail link between China and Italy took to its first journey as it left the Chinese city of Chengdu on January 26, 2019 morning. Operated by the Far East Land Bridge Company (FELB), it is expected to reach Melzo Rail Hub after 18 days to reach Contship Italia’s Rail Hub Milano (RHM) terminal in East Milan. In the beginning it will ply every other week, and soon weekly. It is carrying 40 containers. Travelling more than 10,000 km, it will pass through 8 countries, namely Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland and Austria, before reaching Italy. On account of rail guage differences between European, Russian and Chinese trains, the train will undergo two technical transfers – one at the boundary of Alashankou and Dostyk, and the other one at the Brest-Malaszewicze boundary. Expected on February 12, 40% of the incoming cargo is expected to be processed and re-distributed by the Contship Hannibal’s rail network. The return journey – eastbound Melzo-Chengdu trip – will happen 7 weeks from now and will cover the same route and will carry 40 containers. Going forward the service can be used for cargo meant for France and Switzerland, as Hannibal will offer FELB and its other clients the Melzo-Frenkendorf and Melzo-Lyon rail links, creating an efficient corridor between China and South Europe, said a release.

AFRICA news

Multi-channel tax payment platform launched by DAT

The launched of Tax Collect, an interoperable platform for municipal tax collection, has been announced by Digital Afrique Telecom (DAT).

This multi-channel payment gateway allows taxpayers to pay their taxes via an EPT (Electronic Payment Terminal), smartphone, standard mobile phone or computer the company stated. This solution offers various data options, including geolocation, including an enrolment module that enables taxpayers to be identified. Simplice Anoh, founder and CEO of DAT, said, “We are excited to launch a service that will simplify tax collection and help to optimise its recovery. At DAT, we have fostered a wide range of opportunities provided by technology for the benefit of Africans. Tax Collect is part of this new wave of innovative services that we are developing in order to meet market realities”.
As stated by the company, Tax Collect is available to municipalities and their collection officers. Its aim is also to facilitate tax collection, secure funds and reduce collection costs. “In 2017, there were 104.5 mn mobile money accounts in Africa, an increase of 20.9 % compared to 2016. It is essential to create services that actually meet the needs of Africans. This is the mission we have set ourselves at DAT,” he concluded. Currently DAT has presence in more than 20 countries in Africa. It specialises in the development, aggregation, hosting and sales of mobile solutions. Digital Afrique Telecom has 110mn mobile subscribers and with major industry stakeholders, such as Airtel, MTN, Etisalat and Orange.

Good ocean governance boosted by new deep-sea exploration

TFirst Descent will launch a multidisciplinary exploration ocean territory. It is a collaboration of ocean research institute Nekton, the Commonwealth and other partners.
The expedition ship will set sail from Seychelles in March. It is a floating research station, equipped with subsea technologies including a submersible capable of descending hundreds of metres into the ocean, and some of the world’s top scientists on board to test the health of the ocean. The launch of the initiative is scheduled on 6 February 2019 and will take place at Marlborough House, the Commonwealth headquarters in London. In December, a memorandum of understanding to boost actions under the Commonwealth Blue Charter– a joint commitment by member countries to protect the ocean and sustainably manage its resources was signed betweenthe Commonwealth and Nekton. Paulo Kautoke, Commonwealth director of trade, oceans and natural resources said, “This is a mission of world firsts – including the first live subsea TV series and an examination of previously unexplored ocean depths with cutting edge technologies. But what is most important is the insight that this will offer governments and those who make decisions on important ocean governance issues such as conservation, climate change and fishing.” He continued, “This important partnership with Nekton and governments who recognise the need to take urgent action to protect our ocean will not only support the uptake of new marine science technologies and platforms to improve access to ocean data, it will also facilitate science-based policies and laws, and develop training materials for capacity building.” To plan Nekton expeditions and take part in training, capacity-building and promotional activities, the Commonwealth Secretariat has been appointed to an expedition steering committee. CEO of the Nekton Foundation Oliver Steeds described said, “Sustainable ocean development is the heart of what we are doing to support a blue economy and we are delighted to partner with the Commonwealth to support regionally led ocean governance for the Indian Ocean region. We are seeking other Commonwealth nations to participate in future expeditions after Seychelles in 2019 through to 2022.”
The Nekton Indian Ocean Mission will run from 2019 to 2022 It will deploy three research expeditions in distinct regions of the Indian Ocean. They include the UK Government, Omega, Kensington Tours, University of Oxford, and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Sky and The Associated Press and are backed by an alliance of additional partners.

In Mozambique Kibo’s Benga DFS well ahead of schedule

A definitive feasibility study (DFS) has been designed to confirm Benga Independent Power Project’s commercial and operational viability is progressing well ahead of schedule, Kibo Energy plc, the multi-asset Africa-focused energy company, announced.
Benga Independent Power Project in Mozambique, owned 65 % by Kibo, includes a 150-300MW coal-fired power station, being advanced toward potential development with its joint venture partner, Termoelectrica de Mozambique de Benga SA. Louis Coetzee, CEO of Kibo Energy said, “With its strong regional and governmental support, a DFS designed to confirm the project’s commercial and operational viability is progressing well ahead of schedule, whilst both PPA discussions with prospective off-takers and negotiations with potential coal suppliers are also advancing.”

    Highlights

  • Continued advance in discussions regarding power purchase agreements (PPAs) with prospective off-takers
  • Negotiations with potential coal suppliers and private power off-takers progressing well and will receive priority attention during Q1 2019
  • Work plan advancing for 2019 including final grid integration study, DFS, geotechnical work, financial model, engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) technical specifications, EPC benchmarking and award, and environmental impact assessment (EIA)
  • Site visits included a productive meeting with the Ministry of Energy and Minerals on further development of the project

The renewal of a MoU with Mozambican state-owned electric utility, Electricidade de Mocambique (EDM), was announced by the company to advance the financing, construction and operation of this project. Additionally, negotiations with potential coal suppliers and private power off-takers are progressing well; these will receive priority attention during Q1 of 2019. Benga already possesses a suite of authorizations and agreements in addition to a lease title over land in the Tete province, Mozambique and aims to initially deliver a 150MW coal-fired power station. It will remain in compliance with relevant Mozambique legislation, by default, which will include power, environmental and social responsibility.

How are lives in Africa bettering with digital economy?

With over 400 mn subscribers, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) has made tangible progress in introducing new technologies, with mobile phone penetration reaching 44 % in 2017. Mobile has effectively leapfrogged fixed-line telecoms infrastructure
Technology has raised income levels and enhanced the quality of people’s life. Over time, transportation and communication costs fall, logistics and regional supply chains become more effective and trading costs will decline, in turn opening new markets and driv economic growth across Africa. Use of various examples of advanced technologie by African governments, businesses and consumers cut across sectors. East Africa has led the development of mobile money (m-pesa) in Kenya, facilitating access to financial services to mns of ‘unbanked’ populations. EC CASH which provides mobile money transfer and micro financing, FarmDrive which connects smallholder farmers with lenders and hello tractor which links farmers with the nearest tractor owner are some of the new start-ups. South Africa also delivers social security using biometric data and payment cards to across the country. Rwanda boasts of delivering critical medical supplies to remote health centres, using the world’s first cargo drone delivery service with Silicon Valley start-up Zipline, thanks to recent regulations that gave drones the status of government flights. A drone test corridor for humanitarian purposes was launched in 2017 in Malawi, in a partnership between the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (Unicef) and the government. South African miners deploy drones for everything from mapping to mineral exploration to tracking stockpiles. Thus surveyors spend less time gathering data in the field as drones deliver samples from sites and so they get more time interpreting it. The use of drone mining helps to track deposits in deep mines. VULA Mobile (medical diagnosis app) in South Africa is another example of innovative local services which include connecting health workers with specialists. Biscate is a mobile-recruitment service for blue-collar workers in Mozambique. Fundi bots offers science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) training in classrooms and communities and KYTABU has improved access to textbooks and audio books, in the field of education. More significantly, 3D printing can tackle Africa’s chronic housing deficit by building a house in 24-hours at a low cost. In Ghana, Global Positioning System (GPS) is used to establish addresses where street names and numbers or maps are incomplete. New technologies which are a vital to boost agricultural productivity include – SSA which is endowed with 60 % of globe’s uncultivated arable land. Farmerline, a Ghanaian agro-tech company uses cellphones to provide timely information to farmers on weather forecasts, market prices and financial services. iCOW advises farmers and herders on crop cycle, fertilising, seeding, poultry and best practices; FAMEWS collects data and maps the spread of fall armyworm infestation to protect crops and livestock.

Banker Africa’s Award wins by Temenos for digital banking solution

‘Best Digital Banking Solution’ award at the Banker Africa–North Africa Banking Awards was won by the Temenos, a banking software company, it announced.
The prize was awarded to Temenos in recognition of the company’s digital banking software and continued commitment towards the region by Banker Africa, a monthly magazine established in 2013 and circulated in financial institutions throughout Africa. Matthew Amlôt, the editor of Banker Africa, said, “The Banker Africa Awards programme has become a valued and respected benchmark within the industry and Temenos should be proud that our readers have chosen them for this prestigious prize, which is a celebration of innovation in banking software. This demonstrates the trust and respect for Temenos from the banking and finance community across the North African region.” Jean-Paul Mergeai, managing director–the Middle East and Africa at Temenos, commented, “I am delighted that Temenos is the first vendor to win this prestigious award. We are constantly striving to keep our market-leading digital banking software ahead of the curve and awards like this, which demonstrate that the market recognises our efforts.” “Our strategy to invest 20 % of our revenues on R&D every year is clearly paying off. This will enable us to continue providing the best technology for our clients to deliver engaging and empowering digital banking experiences to customers and staff. Solutions which, as with everything we do, are open, packaged and upgradable, ensuring our clients never fall behind,” he added. This month marked a major milestone with the launch of Temenos Infinity, a digital front office product, and Temenos T24 Transact, the next generation in core banking, the software company stated. It enables banks to provide the right customer insights via the right channel at the right time with its digital banking solutions. The platform also drives massive efficiencies in the back office. The technology offers front office differentiation with back-office automation as an end-to-end digital platform. All aspects of successful banking, from financial inclusion to corporate social responsibility, commercial operations and several individual awardsa are highlighted by the awards.

News FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD

UN: India among countries to benefit from US-China trade war

GENEVA:Among the several countries that stand to benefit from the ongoing trade tensions between the world’s top two economies – the US and China, is India said the UN in its latest report. The United Nations experts said recently there may be little protection for domestic producers due to the tit-for-tat trade dispute between China and the United States. US firms will pick up only about six % of the USD 250 bn in Chinese exports that are subject to US tariffs. Duty on each country’s products will rise to 25 %, up from the current 10 % level unless the US and China agree to drop their tariff dispute by March 1, the UN said. EU member countries are expected to benefit the most from the trade war as exports in the block are likely to grow by USD 70 bn. Exports to Japan and Canada will see increase by more than USD 20 bn each, it said.
Other countries set to benefit from the trade tensions include Australia, with 4.6 % export gains, Brazil (3.8) India (3.5), Philippines (3.2) and Vietnam (5), the study said.

Wall Street Journal Survey: US economy slowing down

WASHINGTON:Economists say, the brief flirtation with 3% growth of the U.S. economy is over for now, cut short by a dimming global outlook, market tremors and sluggish business investment. In a Wall Street Journal survey conducted recently, economists estimate Gross domestic product, or the total value of goods and services produced in the U.S. grew at a 2.6% annual rate in the fourth quarter. The poll said output will grow at a 1.8% clip in the first quarter and a 2.5% rate in the second quarter. Compared to the 3% growth notched in the year through last September, slower average growth of 2.3% is expected for the nine-month period through this June. Economists are of the opinion that the U.S. is holding back due to a big slowdown in China’s economy and slower growth in Europe, reducing demand for American exports and making companies more reluctant to begin long-term projects. “The economy is slowing but not enough to derail the expansion,” said Diane Swonk, Chief Economist at Grant Thornton. “The bad news is the straws on the camel’s back are really piling up and the back’s beginning to bend.”

China to Forge Trade Deal: Increased pressure on U.S.

WASHINGTON:Fearing the economic and market consequences of a failure, some top American business figures are pushing both sides to compromise,
as a deadline approaches for a high-stakes trade deal between the U.S. and China. The two nations are far from an agreement, as U.S. negotiators prepare to meet with their counterparts in Beijing next week. Seeking to avoid new multi bn-dollar U.S. trade penalties, the Chinese had pinned their hope on convincing President Trump to meet one-on-one with Chinese President Xi Jinping in China and hammer out final compromises. Saying on Feb. 7 he wouldn’t meet with Xi before the March 1 deadline, Trump appeared to reject the Chinese overture. The next time the two men are scheduled to meet is at the late June Group of 20 summit in Japan. The Dow Jones Industrial average fell 220.77 points, its steepest drop in two weeks, thanks to the uncertainty that rattled markets on Feb. 7. Blackstone Group Chief Executive Stephen Schwarzman is among those pushing for a deal, who has been phoning Trump and his senior advisers to warn that the failure to strike a deal will undermine the economy and roil markets, which are anticipating an end to U.S.-China economic hostilities. Schwarzman and others arguing uncertainty about China is weighing on business investment and consumer confidence, people familiar with the conversations say. At the same time, Schwarzman and other business leaders, including former Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, are urging senior Chinese officials to make enough concessions to U.S. negotiators to allow Trump to claim a victory. That includes agreeing to a way the U.S. can enforce the deal should China fall short of its commitments.Heading the talks next week are U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who lack the usual essentials for a comprehensive deal. There it’s not even draft with the two sides that specifies where they agree and disagree. “Normally at this stage of negotiations, you’d be exchanging drafts of a joint text,” said Christopher Adams, a former Trump Treasury Department official and trade negotiator who is now at the Covington & Burling law firm. “If it’s all about something enforceable and verifiable, it needs to be memorialized [in a document]. They seem to be some ways yet from having that essential element.” Even so, some of Trump’s outside advisers remain convinced the two sides will reach a deal, even if it is a limited pact that involves mainly purchases and pledges China has already made to gradually open the auto, financial services and other markets.The tougher issues, including Chinese subsidies for domestic companies and revamping Chinese state-owned enterprise so they act more like private companies two sides could then be agreed to negotiate further. A longtime GOP strategist who talks regularly with senior White House officials said “There is an absolute focus at the White House on what policies, tactics and agreements they need to do to keep the economy humming” and give Trump a powerful re-election message. He said those calculations could include a quick deal with China. Last week Lighthizer, a longtime critic of China’s trade practices who is especially influential with Trump, called enforcement the “foundational issue” in the talks. “We have to be in a position where the United States can enforce its rights,” he said, after ticking off the number of times where China hasn’t lived up to commitments. There is disagreement even there between two sides. While the U.S. hasn’t yet decided what sort of enforcement mechanism it wants, and China refuses to have the U.S. judge its progress and enforce its findings through tariffs.
Chinese officials seem confident of a deal because they believe Trump needs the political boost and is being counselled by conciliatory business leaders, said Hudson Institute China scholar Michael Pillsbury, who consults with the White House. “My Chinese sources seem remarkably confident that without any concessions, the Trump administration will drop its tariffs or grant them an extension of many more months” to continue talks, Pillsbury said.

Cyber security Programme to increase the Port’s resilience launched by Amsterdam port

AMSTERDAM: One of the world’s top three countries to be affected by cyber-attacks is the Netherlands. Ports have a wide range of information systems and their data is used by many different parties and hence are particularly vulnerable. To increase the port community’s digital resilience the port of Amsterdam has launched a Cyber security Programme. Valuable information contained in their information systems makes them an appealing target for cybercrime. Basic cyber security controls such as an awareness programme, segregation of networks, timely installations of security updates and a multi-layered security approach need to be implemented in very company. Port of Amsterdam attaches importance to the proactive involvement of companies in the port area in joint efforts to improve cyber resilience which is why it has developed a Cyber security Programme to further this goal.
CYREN network
The two important elements that comprise the programme, a hotline and the CYREN network (Cyber Resilient North Sea Canal Area). it collects information about cyber threats and shares this with the affiliated companies. The information about potential cyber-attacks in the North Sea Canal Area is provided by the hotline to these companies effectively and on time. When a situation occurs that could impact the port region, these companies can contact the hotline. The hotline is staffed by the Harbour Master’s Division.
Cyber resilience

Marleen van de Kerkhof, Harbour Master of Port of Amsterdam and initiator of Port of Amsterdam’s Cyber security Programme: ‘Data flows and chains are increasingly being linked together and made available to a broad public on the Internet. This offers both opportunities and substantial challenges for information security. An attack on a customer’s or supplier’s information system not only impacts the company, but can often also affect all other companies in its surroundings and disrupt shipping operations: cyber incidents are not limited by physical boundaries. Rapidly sharing the latest information about threats, incidents and perspectives for action increases the cyber resilience of the entire port region.’
Recognised programme

The Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy has recognised CYREN through the Digital Trust Centre. According to a company release, several companies and organisations make an active contribution to the development of the CYREN network in the North Sea Canal Area.
Signs of ebbing seen in LA-LB port congestion

December showed lower container and chassis dwell times in Long Beach in Los Angeles, giving ports, truckers, and shippers hope that the worst congestion since the West Coast labor dispute of 2014-2015 will begin fading in early February. According to the monthly dwell time report published by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA), the average container dwell time in Los Angeles-Long Beach in December was 3.31 days, down slightly from 3.51 days in November, but still above the 2.5- to 3-day dwell times that existed during most of 2018. “Anything over three days creates a barrier to improving efficiency,” said Jessica Alvarenga, PMSA’s manager of government affairs.Another indicator of port congestion are the loaded containers that spend an excessive amount of time sitting idle at local warehouses and istribution centres before being unloaded. The container street dwell times, which used to be a a normal three to five days have been averaging seven days, said Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles. Street dwell times for chassis are also an indicator of congestion because the loaded inbound containers are sitting on chassis, taking them out of service. DCLI executive vice president and chief operating officer Ron Joseph said, that street dwell times for the “pool of pools” operated by Direct ChassisLink, Inc. (DCLI), TRAC Intermodal, and Flexi-Van peaked in late 2018 at 7.5 days. Although that is still greater than the 3.5-4 days that is considered normal for street dwell, the street dwell times declined to 5.25 days two weeks ago, he said.
Front-loading to beat Trump tariffs led to more and sooner imports

The main driver of a massive amount of front-loading of spring merchandise through Los Angeles-Long Beach in November and December was the Trump administration’s threat of 25 % tariffs on more than USD200 mn of imports from China, effective Jan. 1. Transit times from China are 10 days to two weeks faster to the West Coast than via all-water services to the East Coast, so Southern California was the main gateway for retailers and manufacturers attempting to deliver their imports before the tariffs were scheduled to take effect. According to statistics published on their websites, the ports experienced record imports for December, with imports increasing 21.6 % in Los Angeles and 7.9 % in Long Beach compared with December 2017. An industry consultant and former logistics director for a national retailer explained pay storage charges in Southern California than to wait until after Jan. 1 and pay the 25 % tariffs was cheaper since retailers didn’t immediately need the spring merchandise. The tariffs and counter-tariffs have been delayed until March 1, so the issue remains unresolved as agreed by the United States and China. Retailers should begin soon to ship their product from the import distribution centres in Southern California, unless the winter vortex that is descending upon the Midwest and East Coast this week causes a last-minute change in plans, opening space for imported containers to be drayed from the 12 container terminals in Los Angeles-Long Beach to the warehouses, and making room for the final shipments leaving Asia at the weekend before factories close for a week or two for the annual Lunar New Year celebrations. In short, productivity is destroyed due to excessive container dwell times at marine terminals and at import distribution facilities. Because containers must be handled multiple times before they finally exit the terminal, marine terminal operators say efficiency begins to decline after their facilities reach 80 % utilisation. 90 % utilization is their maximum capacity before productivity declines say warehouse operators. Paul Bingham, senior economic consultant and contributor to the Global Port Tracker, a report published monthly by Hackett Associates and the National Retail Federation said the macroeconomic forecast for 2019 shows the US economy experiencing slower growth this year, although not at a recessionary level. Slower economic growth plus the front-loading of 2019 spring merchandise in the autumn of 2018 portend low-single-digit year-over-year increases each month in containerized imports from Asia, Bingham said.The latest issue of the Global Port Tracker projects imports in January will decline 0.9 % from January 2018. Year-over-year imports are also projected to decline 0.9 % in February, increase 0.6 % in March and 3.7 % in April, but decline 1.3 % in May from the previous year. US exports to those countries however, could diminish in case of a failure by the United States and China to reach an agreement by March 1 in their trade war, or slowing economic growth in western Europe and China, would be red flags that could lead to slower economic growth in the United States and slower growth in imports later this year, which would reduce the likelihood of a return to port congestion later in the year, Bingham said.

Launch of DUB–DFW route by American Airlines Cargo

Today, American Airlines Cargo announced the near launch of a nonstop 787 passenger service between Dublin (DUB) and Dallas Fort-Worth (DFW) that will operate from June to September. The carrier is anticipating continued growth in the manufacturing sector in Texas, naming computer parts, medical devices, machinery, oil industry equipment, aviation parts and pharmaceuticals as likely cargo candidates for the belly space on the route. American already offers a few trans-Atlantic connections out of DUB – including services to Charlotte (CLT), Chicago O’Hare (ORD), Philadelphia (PHL), and a seasonal service from Shannon (SNN) to PHL. The new DUB-DFW route will be the first flight connecting the two hubs in the airline’s history. In the recent years the combination carrier has been ramping up its commitment to cargo. Its annual traffic results for the 2018 year were released last week, in which it broke its record for total cargo volume moved in one year.

Port of Manila clogs by congestion

The port of Manila, which is the leading container gateway to the Philippines, is struggling with terminal congestion and truck shortages during a traditional shipping lull which is hitting refrigerated shippers particularly hard. The problems this week led Hapag-Lloyd to stop accepting inbound reefer shipments to the Philippines container hub. Although waiting times had started to ease one Hong Kong-based freight forwarder said container ships had to wait up to five days before being able to berth. Terminal and landside congestion have been exacerbated due to truck shortages, warehouse closures, and too many empty boxes. A week-long “holiday” was staged by truckers in November to protest terminal congestion caused by uncollected empty boxes. Drivers were also protesting against a 15-year age limit proposed by the Philippine Ports Authority, starting this year, on trucks serving the port.
Strong growth in volume – Major congestion cause
Manila region ports saw 9 % growth in import and export container volumes in the first 10 months of last year, the Philippine Ports Authority said. Manila was place among the world’s top 30 international container ports thanks to the increase followed a 5.7 % rise in box volumes in 2017 to 4.8 mn TEU. Confirming the ban on reefer imports, Hapag-Lloyd said in a customer advisory on January 23, “We would like to inform you that Hapag-Lloyd will cease acceptance for all reefer cargo to Manila, for both North and South Harbor, with immediate effect. The decision is made due to terminal congestion at Manila port as well as limited trucking capacity.” When contacted by Narlene Soriano, public relations director at International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI), a Hapag-Lloyd spokesperson said the carrier had nothing to add to the customer notice which operates Manila’s North Harbor, agreed trucking capacity was tight because of warehouse closures. “There is always a lack of trucking capacity, and yard capacity is always strained in December as the holidays at the end of November through the beginning of January limit the days in which boxes leave the terminal, due to closures of warehouses. This year this has been magnified, due to the closure of many empty depots in the city as real estate prices increase,” she told. Asian Terminals Inc. Soriano a Manila-listed Company operating the Manila South Harbor, said because of an expected slowdown in reefer boxes leaving the port, shipping lines were advised to temporarily reduce or stop reefer imports between Christmas and New Year. But she added the measures weren’t actually implemented. “Reefer capacity at Manila International Container Terminal is currently approximately 75 % as we approach the lean Chinese New Year period,” Soriano told.

IoT platform introduced by Rotterdam Port

ROTTERDAM:Port of Rotterdam Authority has developed a new Internet of Things platform. The first application for hydro/meteo has recently been put into operation. Rotterdam port is taking safety and efficiency a step further with this application. The system uses an extensive network of sensors to provide accurate and up-to-date water (hydro) and weather (meteo) data particularly for the planning and management of shipping.
Announced a year ago by the collaborating partners IBM, Cisco, Esri and Axians, the construction of the IoT platform has now been delivered under the Port Authority’s direction. “It’s a fantastic step in the development of Rotterdam as ‘smartest port’,” stated Ronald Paul, the Port Authority’s Chief Operating Officer. “Just as important, however, is that the cloud platform and the generated real-time information, which includes infrastructure, water and weather condition data, enable us to further improve mission-critical processes in the service to our clients.”